The HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC) is advocating that condoms should be distributed at places of worship and faith-based educational settings.
The network called for condom distribution in its March 19 statement issued at a presentation to the UCC Wider Church Ministries Board, the Institute on Religion and Democracy reports.
UCC executive Michael Shuenemeyer argued: “The practice of safer sex is a matter of life and death. People of faith make condoms available because we have chosen life so that we and our children may live.”
The UCC denomination is descended from Puritan and Congregationalist traditions.
Presently the UCC has about 1.2 million members, down from 2.1 million in 1967. In the most recent year for which data is available, the denomination reportedly lost six percent of its membership according to its 2009 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
Alan Wisdom, Institute for Religion and Democracy Vice President for Research and Programs, commented on the network’s justification, saying “One wonders where the children will come from if UCC members are religiously using their church-dispensed condoms.”
He argued that condoms “can easily be obtained at any corner drugstore. One would hope that a church would be offering some moral guidance not available at the drugstore.”
Remarking that the UCC was “quick to criticize Pope Benedict” for voicing doubts about condoms as the solution to HIV/AIDS, Wisdom suggested the denomination should consider why Catholics oppose artificial contraception: “because it turns sex into an activity in which persons instrumentalize one another's bodies for pleasure, thus promoting the kind of promiscuity that accelerates the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
“Parents concerned about schools distributing condoms might assume that the church would have their backs, reinforcing the traditional Christian ethic reserving sex for marriage,” he continued. “In the case of the UCC, that assumption would be wrong. Now, apparently, parents need to think twice before dropping their kids off for Sunday school.”